College spring sports athletes likely getting another year of eligibility

Sports

FRESNO, Calif. — The NCAA released a statement Friday, recommending “eligibility relief” for spring sports student-athletes, after the organization canceled all spring sports championships on Thursday, over concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus.

Spring sports include baseball, golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, and men’s volleyball.

The NCAA statement said the following:

Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports. Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks. 

In Fresno State’s case for example, this means the seniors, and all the other members on this year’s nationally-ranked softball team, would gain another year of college eligibility, although many other details would have to be worked out.

Scholarship limits for spring sports teams would likely have to be raised, and if that ended up being the case, the schools would have to figure out how they would pay for that.

Bulldog softball coach Linda Garza and the rest of the team were at the Seattle airport Thursday, on their way to Boise for a weekend series with the Broncos, when they learned the rest of their season had been canceled.

In a text message Friday, Garza sounded optimistic about Friday’s announcement.

“The NCAA, I believe, will make it right, and I’m confident both the NCAA and universities will fight to make it right for athletes, as it relates to scholarships,” said Garza. “It’s a complex issue. Our goal was getting spring sports a year back, and that seems to be happening. That’s a WIN. Let’s get healthy and safe as a community, and then let’s tackle ‘the how’ once we are safe.”

According to Kyle Bonagura of ESPN, the NCAA will also discuss further “eligibilty relief” for winter sport athletes, who “were unable to participate in conference and NCAA championships,” but it’s unclear what options will be considered.

Winter sports athletes would include among others, NCAA men’s and women’s basketball teams, and men’s wrestling teams, including Fresno State. Several Bulldog wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships that were canceled.

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